I was struck last night by a promo on CTV Ottawa News.
It said that the lead story for the next news cycle would be the opening of a new Bridgehead coffee shop in Westboro.
I found this strange because a) there is a federal election going on and b) there is real news happening in the world like the first anniversary of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf.
The world’s a mess. War in Libya. Collapse of the U.S. economy. Twisters in North Carolina. Nuclear fallout in Japan.
But the news hounds at CTV Ottawa seem to think adding another Java joint to a trendy Ottawa neighborhood is breaking news.
Java Java Do.
What the heck is going on?
The day before, the newscast lead with a story that McDonald’s was taking resumes on its first ever “career day”. My son got a job at Famous Players during a recent hiring blitz — which hired the exact same number of employees as Mickey D’s — and I didn’t see anything about this on the news. Why was a job fair for McJobs news?
Over at the A Channel things aren’t much better.
You can’t really blame them since their entire news staff was fired a few years back and their newsroom was basically handed over to CTV Ottawa following a fire.
Despite the gutting of its news operations, the A Channel’s morning news program remains pretty popular.
Trouble is, I was told by a local business owner, you can’t get on the A Channel morning show unless you’re willing to fork out $6,000 for the privilege.
That’s right, my friends, the A Channel is committing chequebook journalism in reverse.
If you pay, they play.
I’m talking six grand for one spot on the show to flog your product, whether it’s plastic surgery or weight loss or wedding planning.
Apparently, businesses are lining up for it.
Of course, radio has been doing this for years. I have a friend who works at CFRA who had a show and charged guests $2,500 a pop to appear. He even bribed callers with prizes if they called in to ask the guests what kind of flooring was best for their hallway and how many calories they should consume during a given day.
As a viewer, I find the movement towards pay to play in television to be disturbing. There is no disclaimer on any of these segments saying the spots are really “infomercials”. The people appearing in these segs are presented as real journalistic subjects.
Back at CTV Ottawa, there’s always the Tech segment which is just a big fat ad for Best Buy. And the Noon News is nothing more than a gigantic plug for choice local businesses.
Look, I’m not naive. I mean J. J. Clarke is no journalist.
But I think they should just stop calling it news if the opening of a new Bridgehead coffee shop trumps the federal election.
Television news in Canada is getting more and more like the pabulum Americans watch. It’s been so dumbed down and commercialized it’s painful to watch. This is too bad because more Canadians than ever are getting all their news from their flatscreens.
It is true that all the stations offer real news on their websites. We rip and read the headlines and you can find out more at dot.ca.
But how many people take the trouble to go to the web for the details? Only people, it seems, who delight in posting inane anonymous comments.
Stephen Harper, blow me. Obama is a douche.
That kind of thing.
I long for the days when television news had meat, not just gravy.